GER-VOLGA-L ArchivesArchiver > GER-VOLGA > 2008-03 > 1206466881
From: hugh lichtenwald <>
Subject: [GV] Fwd: RE: Saratov Archives and its "Friends"
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 10:41:21 -0700 (PDT)
For some reason my response to Vera didn't get posted...so I'll send it again in slightly different form and add an additional response.
The sale of Archived data at exhorbitant prices is also now becoming routine in the US. Many states have closed their databases to researchers and now sell data. In many cases, like the Russians, at prices which preclude research by "amateurs."
Perhaps we should all get on the bandwagon and not share but sell, not volunteer but charge a fee. Other people, other states, other Archives in other countries are doing so, should it not also be so with all of us?
hugh lichtenwald <> wrote:
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 07:10:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: hugh lichtenwald <>
Subject: RE: [GV] Saratov Archives and its "Friends"
To: Vera Beljakova <>,
Hallo List and Vera:
Regardless of how many Books are involved, the costs involved remain outrageous.
I am not a "hobbyist" nor do I have the "standing" of a "professional" or even an "academic."
I would argue however, that those doing family research are "amateur genealogists" and they are doing research for research's sake (which, I believe, is the very definition of an "academic").
One utilizes the services of "professional" genealogists for 2 reasons: 1. the user is too lazy/busy to do the research him/herself or, 2. access to research data is not easily obtainable. "Professionals" have their uses but in the world of genealogy they seem to have risen to an almost saintly status in opposition to what they are in fact. They are hirelings, nothing more. You pay them a wage to do a task. To elevate their standing above that of the people who hire them is illogical. As I said, they have their place, but it certainly should not be on a pedestal.
By charging the amateur for access to data and blessing the professional and the academic, the Archives are contributing to a problem which everyone is aware of but no one cares to address. That problem being the resale of archival data for profit, or as I see it, "the selling of your heritage." The problem has grown to the point that I can see no satisfactory resolution. Everyone seems to want to "recover expenses" which is really a codeword for making a buck. Even the "amateur" has become infected and the disease is rampant among Volga descendants as hunger was among their Volga ancestors during the famine years.
Again, someone will attack and argue that anyone who puts in a lifetime of research and expenditure of money should be able to recoup the value of their efforts. To this I say a resounding NO! If you sell your heritage, you demean those years of efforts and expenditures and are reduced to huckstering. You might as well put your "stuff" on Ebay.
There was a time when the word "amateur" was a term of respect and somehow it has now become a pejoritive term. Not so in my vocabulary. Amateurs are people who have the purest of motives. They seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Limiting their access by charging exhorbitant fees denigrates their efforts and actually reduces the income the Archives could possibly receive from them.
Yes, someone has to pay for the efforts of those at the Archives, but if the Archives were to go into "business" they would be able make much more in the way of income then they presently do with their current restrictive policies. I know that I would much rather have a certified and translated copy of data from an Archive than I would a copy of a copy through some retail genealogist. If the Archives don't "smarten up" their customer base will only be those "esteemed" "professionals," "academics" and "authors." When the professionals and academics finish gathering the resaleable data from the Archives then there will be no income except for that provided by their government.
This will happen sooner rather than later. The only recourse for the Archives (if they're even interested) is to become more business like and seek to expand their customer base by reducing prices and providing more services to amateurs like myself. While I may be a minority voice in this crowd, I am aware of a few others who share my outlook and we shake our collective heads and say "Shame on you!" On all of the organizations purportedly supporting GR research, who have allowed this to happen, shame on the Archives for not being farsighted. And shame on me for not speaking out sooner.
Hugh Lichtenwald, from the farm in Monetta, SC
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